Acts 15:1-11

Today’s devotion is written by Mark Crain.

“Jesus Be the Center of Your Church.”

Imagine church in a crisis of faith! The missionary message of Paul and Barnabas, declaring Jesus as the new path to salvation, certainly met with mixed reviews, and brought them into conflict with some church establishments. The Jewish law of Moses needed to be defended against the revolutionary message that “This is what the Lord commanded us: ‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,’ so that you could bring salvation to the end of the earth.” (Acts 13:47, Isaiah 49:6) The Jerusalem Conference gave the new “Christians” an opportunity to consider a fundamental transition within a tribunal of apostles and elders.

Simply, Jesus was outside the acceptable order of the day for many religious
authorities. Grace above the law was a tradition/mind-blowing concept that was hard to accept. It was more convenient and “normal” to stand in the way and keep the doors closed. After all, the history of the “chosen people” had to consider the “unchosen” as well.

The Gospel of Jesus, offered to the whole world, challenges many traditional, ceremonial, and congregational restrictions. It is certainly easier for the “establishments” to open their doors and accept people and ideas that fit into or enhance their existing beliefs. Consider how the doors to worldly success, memberships, and privilege, are opened easier to those who follow the formula, stick with the plan, behave properly, and follow the rules. Conversely, how does this logic encourage spiritual growth, the love of Jesus, and sharing the gospel?

How do we guard against religious requirements, norms and biases that exclude faithful persons in favor of a cohesive community?

Whose Church is it anyway?

What are your thoughts, comments, questions?

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